Whilst any true Chelsea fan knows we have history – and plenty of it – there are some aspects that remain surprisingly hidden. One such person is Frederick Parker esq.
The last resting place of Frederick Parker, whose contribution to the founding of Chelsea Football Club and the early years of our existence cannot be overestimated, has undergone restoration in time for our visit to Pomepy on Wednesday.
It was Parker who persuaded the Edwardian businessman Henry Augustus Mears to form a new club to play inside a planned Stamford Bridge expansion rather than sell to property developers. His grave is at the parish church for the West Sussex village of Milland, a few miles off the main A3 road between London and Portsmouth.
The grave, tracked down by club historian Rick Glanvill, had fallen into disrepair but with funding from the club, renovation was carried out this month by Alver-Stones, in consultation with direct descendants of the Parker family, who had also been traced. Supporters heading down to Fratton Park are welcome to visit the church to view the completed work.
In addition to convincing Mears that forming Chelsea FC was a viable option, a moment preceded and made famous by Mears’s dog biting Parker, the soon-to-be honorary financial secretary was the man who manoeuvred Chelsea into the Football League, the first time a club was admitted having never played a game. They obviously knew quality when they saw it!
Parker also recruited the club’s first captain and team, edited the Chelsea Chronicle (the matchday programme equivalent), drew up the original ambitious business plans, and even the name Chelsea Football Club was his idea. Little wonder he would refer to himself as the ‘godfather’ of the club. CFCnet simply refers to him as Don Corleone Jnr.
He remained at Chelsea until just before the Second World War and died in 1951. He is buried along with his wife Rosabelle and the gravestone is one of only two known with a reference to Chelsea Football Club in the inscription.
The other is that of Parker’s great friend Mears, who is buried in Brompton Cemetery, next to Stamford Bridge. Chelsea FC produced a guide to his grave, and those of other club notables interred at Brompton, two years ago.
The Official Chelsea Website and Chelsea TV will be visiting the graveyard on the way to the Portsmouth game and will report back.
Directions to St Luke’s Church, Milland travelling from London:
- Take A3 towards Portsmouth. Travel past tunnel-building works at Hindhead and turn LEFT approximately two miles later at Liphook.
- In Liphook village keep LEFT at first roundabout and RIGHT at second roundabout. After a couple of miles along B2070 turn LEFT at sign to MILLAND PARISH CHURCH.St Luke’s Church main gate is just ahead. The Church just off B2070 between Liphook and Rake. There is no need to enter Milland village itself.
- For Sat Nav purposes, the next door house is GU30 7JL. (Churches do not have postcodes).
- Parking is best outside the church gate.
Our thanks to Chelsea Football Club for the information.